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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5334
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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I am having a problem with my 76 year old mother, who for

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i am having a problem with my 76 year old mother, who for all the time i raised my 28 year old daughter and 23 year old son , my mother did not try to be a part of their lives. while my mother raised me, for much of my life she had her mother (my grandmother) take care of me , so she could go off to date men. now that she is 76 she wants more out of our relationship and says she is hurt that i have certain limitations with that. how can i stop her making me feel bad, when she obviosly is oblivious to all her years of neglecting me and my family?

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

First, let me say I can imagine how frustrating and even disappointing this situation must be for you. You are clearly a very loving and caring person because the history you describe would make many if not most people not nearly as generous in their time and thought as you are. You not only are being generous on the outside, you are trying to be generous and caring in your heart. I am very impressed and good for you.

And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. That you are able to maintain this caring feeling and attitude is very important. And in order to do that, you are going to have to accept something about your mom that you know within yourself is true. But now I want you to say it openly to you and to your husband who deserves words of praise for not demanding a complete severing of relations after the incident with her boyfriend.

And this attitude that I need you to realize and adopt is that your mom has a disability. If it were a physical disability like diabetes, it would be easy. Because diabetes is visible. And we know we have to make accommodations for it. It doesn't mean we stop eating sugar ourselves. But we know that when we're with the diabetic relative, we can't have ice cream and cake (I know this isn't accurate but I'm just using a crude example here).

And so what is your mother's disability? I don't know that she is narcissistic as a clinically diagnosable mental health issue. But she clearly has an emotional problem of limited insight that tends toward narcissistic behavior. Okay. That's who she is and you can't help her change it. First of all she's 76. Second of all, narcissistic tendencies are the most difficult to change. So, please, don't go telling her about this. that's not our intention. Our goal here is to help you and your husband deal with her limitations.

Again, that doesn't mean that you change the rules of engagement you set up after the incident. That was fair and if she asks about why not, you tell her in a loving way that you can't take the chance but you love her anyways. End of discussion.

In general that she's hurt at the limitations is fine. That's part of her disability. You have to accept that. Her disability is not sugar. It's that whatever you give her, she's going to need and want more. So the rule of thumb you use is that you do not determine what you can do for or with her by what she asks for or states she wants or needs. Rather, by what you can manage within your abilities to feel good and not overburdened or put out. And remember the two of you are your first priority, then kids, then back to you, and maybe she's next.

so read this with your husband so he can strengthen you in this new attitude. I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button. Feel free to continue the discussion; my goal is to get you the best answers possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****

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